At NATO Summit, an 'Absolutely Critical' Moment for Biden

US president must prove on the world stage that he's up to the task of continuing for 4 more years
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2024 6:50 AM CDT
At NATO Summit, an 'Absolutely Critical' Moment for Biden
President Biden walks across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on Sunday after returning from a trip to Pennsylvania.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

With November's election looming, President Biden is now facing "a week of reckoning," with the NATO summit kicking off Tuesday in DC. That convening may prove to be a "path to at least a temporary reprieve—or this president's last stand," per the BBC. The outlet notes that Biden will have three days of back-to-back meetings and public happenings, concluding with a solo presser on Thursday. "Biden is entering this week diminished. We don't know how he's going to exit it," says Kristine Berzina of the German Marshall Fund Geostrategy North. More on the summit and the stakes involved:

  • Thursday's news conference: Biden is likely to be hit with queries on the US election and his fitness at the summit's culmination, an opportunity that political science expert Todd Belt of the George Washington University tells USA Today is "absolutely critical." "The microscope [is] going to be on Biden," he notes.
  • No wiggle room: Biden "has absolutely no room for any sort of mistakes, any sort of trip-ups," Rachel Rizzo of the Atlantic Council tells the Wall Street Journal. "The sort of gaffes that have become pretty common for Biden and just a factor of who he is as a person and as a president are now going to be seen by European leaders as a broader question of suitability."
  • World leaders: They'll be spending hours with Biden and observing him closely themselves to assuage any concerns they may have, per CNN. The outlet also notes the age differential between Biden, 81, and many of the other heads of state—French President Emmanuel Macron (46), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (52), Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni (47)—which will likely stand out even more starkly than usual in the photos that emerge out of the summit.
  • White House reaction: At a pre-summit briefing, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre promised, "You're going to see the president being a leader," per USA Today. "Look, foreign leaders have seen the president close up and personally for the past three years," she added. "And I think that's important to know. They know who they are dealing with and how effective he has been."

  • NATO secretary-general's take: The Journal notes that Jens Stoltenberg "dodged repeated questions about Biden's health and abilities" during a news conference last week. "I have had and continue to have a very good working relationship with President Biden, and I welcome his very strong personal commitment to the alliance and the leadership on [the war in] Ukraine," Stoltenberg said at the time.
  • The specter of Trump: A win by the former US president in November is "a possibility that many of [the world leaders] dread," CNN notes. The New York Times reports that the alliance has been "hedging its bets in case of a second Trump presidency," including by installing "a new NATO command to ensure a long-term supply of arms and military aid to Ukraine even if the United States, under ... Trump, pulls back."
  • How is NATO poised to help Ukraine? The AP has the scoop, including how NATO leadership "will renew a vow that Ukraine will join the alliance one day, but not while it's at war."
  • 'Make or break' for NATO? Rose Gottemoeller, a former NATO deputy secretary general, doesn't see the summit that way. "I think it is an extraordinarily important summit for the NATO alliance," she tells CNBC. "It's a difficult moment for NATO, but NATO has weathered a lot of crises before."
(More NATO stories.)

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